The weather is nice. The sun shines from the sky and flushes fresh electricity into our batteries. The wind blows us across the pond with wind speeds of five to six and also fills our batteries. For the first time in many days, the wind vane has been set exactly the same way in the morning as it was in the evening, no screw has come loose. The repair was lasting. The coffee is fresh. And the miles have reversed. We have more miles behind us since midnight than we have before us.
Pizza is planned for tonight. We don't have much left to put on the pizza, but it will still be enough. We saved the cheese, tomatoes, onions, garlic, olives and salami are added.
I am currently working on the electrics of another ship again - this time as an electrical remote doctor. At the joint venture, the refrigerator failed. I asked Damir to measure the battery voltage at various points. When he's done, we'll talk more. I have a guess what is happening to him, but I would like to underpin this with a few measurement results. Well, if you don't have any work to do on your own boat ...
After we pulled the approx. 1.5 meter long and approx. 25 kg heavy mahi mahi out of the water yesterday, our refrigerator is filled from top to bottom with the finest fish fillets. We will have to feed on this fish for better or worse for the next few months. Now we have already fished the Atlantic pretty empty at our position. We still can't make a pizza tonno because the tuna has not yet bitten. Sailing is hard and full of privation.
10. Etmal: 117 nm Position at 12 o'clock: N16 ° 09 ′ W42 ° 45 ′ 994 nautical miles to Barbados, we have 1099 miles behind us.
We got our very first fish at the mentioned position at 3:15 p.m. A mahi mahi. We were just sitting down to play skat when the whole fishing line rolled off the drum. It was over with the Skat, Jens fought with the fish for half an hour. Then he took him on board with Jakob. Then the fish was slaughtered, scaled, except ... It's a down-to-earth life on board a sailing yacht.
We dedicate this fish to Rob from SY Grace, who gave us the tip about the right bait, and we dedicate it to my former colleagues at DENIC eG, whose parting gift became our fishing equipment. We dedicate it to everyone who likes to eat fresh fish. After several thousand nautical miles without a catch, I didn't want to believe in it anymore.
Everything could be so nice and quiet if it weren't for the daily repairs. Our windpilot now wants to give attention twice a day with the wrench, the same screws have to be tightened again and again. I have to think of something else. Still, we're having a good time, I find time to climb into the pulpit and take a picture of Jens and Jakob in the cockpit. What the picture shows is that we have come to terms with it when our floating apartment leans to one side again.
In the evening Jakob and Jens have just gone to bed, my watch begins. After a few minutes I see a huge dark cloud in the light of the full moon, which is flying towards Sissi from behind. I turn on the radar and a huge orange stain proves that I'm right. There the first squall of our Atlantic crossing comes roaring up. I immediately reef the genoa, leaving only a scrap the size of a bath towel. Warning time: about five minutes. Note, with a squall you have to reef immediately.
There is no longer enough time to get shower gel and a towel from the bathroom, instead I barricade the companionway and stay in the cockpit in a T-shirt and underpants. I'm waiting for the downpour that such a squall supposedly always brings with it. Allegedly. In fact, that first squall splits into two cells two miles behind our stern, one on port and one on starboard rushing past Sissi. We are spared for the time being. The wind is still up to 35 kn, it remains very gusty even after the squall.
At midnight I wake Jakob to his watch, and we're back in the middle of a squall. This time there was enough rain to wash the salt off my skin. Unfortunately no more. Again the number on the anemometer climbs to unimagined heights, sometimes 35 kn, sometimes 40 kn. It starts from. After a few minutes, Jens pushes the hatch open and asks if we have a squall. The wind generator would cause resonances the size of a rocket launch.
The following morning, in the best weather, Jens and I dismantle part of the wind vane, replace short screws with longer ones, which I can then properly counter with nuts. Perhaps the problem has now been resolved once and for all. If not, I'll have to come up with something new. It's amazing how creative you can get on a sailboat in the middle of the Atlantic when the nearest hardware store is thousands of miles away.
We still have to come up with something for tomorrow. Today or tomorrow we will celebrate the mountain festival. Then we have more miles in the wake than in front of the bow. Perhaps we will offer a can of holy cider for this divine festival.
9. Etmal: 117 nm Position at 12 o'clock: N15 ° 43 ′ W40 ° 49 ′ 1104 nautical miles to Barbados, we have 982 miles behind us.
The disasters were all reserved for the darn seventh day, the eighth day started leisurely. No flying fish. Just tighten a few loose screws, not even in places where it can be dangerous. Everything is OK, the coffee is freshly steamed. Wind and solar power flow steadily into the batteries, the Wattermaker hums and fills the water tank. There is no reason to complain. We don't even have to curse at the Iridium Lotto anymore. We always have five correct numbers now! So five out of five bars for the signal strength. And that's how it happened ...
A few weeks ago, on the crossing from Santa Cruz to Mindelo, I scolded a blog about iridium. That we always lose connections and that the transmission of large amounts of data is a game of chance. Shortly afterwards, I received an email from Martin at SY Fairytale. He has a lot of Iridium experience and said I should operate the device without our external antenna. Since I have already tried this without success on the North Sea, I ignored this recommendation and forgot it a few days later.
I tried it a few days ago. I was bored on my watch and there was nothing else to fix. In the cockpit, I was able to transmit large amounts of data without any problems with the built-in antenna. After several attempts, I later succeeded in producing such stable connections at the installation site in the machine room. There is a loose contact where you plug the antenna cable into the casing of the phone. I fixed the antenna cable with some adhesive tape, then a big blob of screw glue was added to the five-bar position. Holds. Since some days. And we've never had problems with disconnections since then. Martin, thank you again for the mail!
The next step will be to get Netflix working through Iridium. Or buy from Musk? The 2400 connection is just as powerful as my high-speed modem was in the 1980s. However, the connections are really messy stable. Just for fun, I emailed a 1.9MB photo to our sister. It only took a little over two and a half hours. And a flat rate is wasted every minute that no data is transmitted.
Of course we made a mistake about the repairs. A batten broke under the load of two sails, a dinghy, a mast ladder, a heeled Porsche and a bicycle. It now wants to be cleared out. Jakob and Jens have already started the clearing and woodwork.
8. Etmal: 119 nm Position at 12 o'clock: N15 ° 46 ′ W38 ° 53 ′ 1215 nautical miles to Barbados, we have 865 miles behind us.
The water is so incredibly beautiful blue. Wave after wave comes rolling in from behind. Meter by meter it is getting closer and closer, it grows beyond the implement carrier. Then the stern lifts, the wave runs under Sissi and you can see from the cockpit into a deep valley. If one of the waves breaks in the sunlight, this place shines in the most beautiful, brightest and richest blue tones, framed by the white splashes of the spray. The drama repeats itself several times a minute, hour after hour, all day. At night the water is dark gray. If the moon is shining, it also makes the spray sparkle. I can't get enough of this spectacle. That's better that way, because they show this film day and night in the on-board cinema when you sit in the cockpit.
Otherwise everything is routine. We collected several flying fish and put them back into the water. The fastening screws of one support of the wind generator have loosened and wanted to be tightened again. In addition, the fastening of the aforementioned support on the standpipe of the wind generator wobbled. Hadn't we screwed it down properly first ...? That was between Guernsey and Roscoff when we almost lost the wind generator for the first time. And now again? We've only sailed a few thousand miles from Roscoff to here. The time before the Vizcaya crossing is so infinitely long away from our now.
We need a screw control checklist. We cannot check every screw every day. But we have to make sure that all screws are checked regularly. Otherwise there will always be nasty surprises. I also pull the one from the wind vane, it rattled a little there. And the battery in the engine room wanted to tear itself away, it sheared off some of its retaining screws. I'm replacing the screws with more screws. Another point for the checklist. But the rig holds up well. The new lower shrouds have to be tightened in the next few days, but there is still time. The new Genoa also pulls us nicely westwards.
In addition, we turned the clock back an hour last night, we are now in the UTC-3 time zone or four hours behind Germany. This means that our position on the stalking page is always updated shortly after 4 a.m. and a little after 4 p.m. Fortunately, we are spared jet lag.
The wind is blowing so nicely, the weather is great, we are making a good trip. The rocking is now very pleasant, the noises in the ship are again limited. I sit in the cockpit for another hour and enjoy everything. The blue water, the spray, the sun and the wind. I never thought it would be so nice to just see water for days. The Atlantic looks different every day, and after a few hours the picture has often changed completely. I hardly get around to reading my books. The best and most exciting thriller is totally boring when I compare it to the tension of the boundlessness and vastness of the ocean.
7. Etmal: 125 nm Position at 12 o'clock: N15 ° 52 ′ W36 ° 56 ′ 1326 nautical miles to Barbados, we have 746 miles behind us.
We don't have a lot of wind, but we have some kind of wind now. It has only increased to 15 to 18 knots, but that's enough to improve travel comfort by several powers of ten. The sail has so much pressure that it no longer flaps when the ship moves. In addition, the ship's movements are generally much more pleasant. And calm returns. Due to the reduced movement of the ship, the interior fittings no longer creak as much and the dishes in the tap no longer clink.
Even today a fish bites during our skat round, and today we lose it. This time we were allowed to keep the bait. After all, we are nearing a successful catch. Our fridge is almost empty anyway, a tuna would do very well in there.
For a good part of the afternoon we just sit around in the cockpit and look out. The smooth ride is a gentle glide through the waves. It hardly rocks any more. Downstairs in the salon it feels like Sissi is firmly tied to the dock. You don't hear anything except the hissing and gurgling of the water. A school of dolphins or a small whale would have been the perfect frame for this picture from a sailboat brochure, but they had other plans. We enjoy the time and the tranquility that spreads to the horizon.
In the evening we start the engine for an hour. If you normally get your electricity from wind power and solar energy, five days of sailing with moderate to low wind and partly heavily overcast skies are the absolute killer for the power supply. After an hour, the battery monitor reports that there is another 70 Ah more in the batteries. It's finally quiet again.
My watch then becomes anything but quiet. Suddenly, over 30 knots of wind push Sissi from behind. I think of a squall first, but there is nothing. The radar shows nothing. But from one minute to the next, the wind has changed from a nice, good-natured sliding wind to a nasty, gusty and unfriendly wind. I have to reef the sail, with only 15 knots of constant wind. The gusts go up to almost 30 kn.
At night I am repeatedly tossed around in bed by the waves. Still, I sleep pretty well, the body gets used to everything. The morning after, I find Jens and Jakob in the cockpit, staring dumbly at the log and grinning. Jens has reefed and the wind pushes Sissi forward at 6.5 to 7.5 knots. The only thing missing is that they both drool on the instruments. The wave is stronger than yesterday, but the speed more than makes up for the loss of comfort. It is beautiful here.
6. Etmal: 120 nm Position at 12 o'clock: N15 ° 49 ′ W34 ° 49 ′ 1449 nautical miles to Barbados, we have 621 miles behind us.
A Skat game is on board, a chess game and the minority quartet of the Postillon. Something can be done with that. We also have the rod that we still haven't caught a fish with. So get out the fishing rod and make the card game clear. I proclaim that one should rest on the fifth day, as it is in the Bible. We want to play skat. I think I played the last round of skat in the past millennium. Jens not yet, Jakob just as often. The fishing line goes into the water with a bait, a bait that is guaranteed to work.
Then I'll start by explaining the rules. With the values of the colors, with the bidding, playing the cards, etc. It takes a while before I remember the importance of the jacks when bidding. And that you can play a zero. And what the value of a zero, a zero overt or something. I can't remember any of the values, but we're among ourselves and still practicing. Usually these values are all on one of the cards in the game of Skat. They are only missing in our boarding pass game. Sailing is hard and full of privation.
It is fun. Have fun. Jakob and Jens understand the rules fairly quickly. Trumpf is only occasionally not served, but these are marginal phenomena. We play a round, then we suddenly notice that the fishing line is completely gone. A fatty fish is on the hook. We get ready for the tuna steak in the evening, Jens cranks meter by meter back onto the reel. The counter shows 50 meters of string when the crank suddenly turns very easily. The fish is gone, and so is the fishhook. Sailing is hard and full of privation.
Then we treat ourselves to a nice shower. Everyone has to, there is no exception. Either everyone shower or none. Otherwise we can no longer guarantee a uniform odor nuisance for the others. The shower is unfortunately only cold, it has an Atlantic temperature (around 25 ° C). Sailing is hard and full of privation.
Then we eat the pizza, unfortunately without oregano and without fresh tuna. We ran out of oregano, we never had the tuna. In addition, we only had two sheets of pizza, we could have eaten three. But then the dough was no longer enough. Sailing is hard and full of privation.
In the night there is finally some wind. The boat speed increases. The boat noises decrease. There is tension in the ship again, the rolling movements become more pleasant or disappear. Until I want to pour myself a glass of cola while on watch and neglect the normal precautionary measures a little. At this moment another nasty wave catches us, gets Sissi rolling, me stumbling and the Coke on the floor. Great, I can mop the floor in the middle of the night. Sailing is hard and full of privation.
We are in contact by email with the Joint Venture II, which left a day and a half before us. They also suffer from the weak wind. And we're in contact with Björkö, who left two days after us and can't complain about wind. During the night we are overtaken by the Chriscat from France at a distance of only two miles, unfortunately we cannot establish a radio link. Several calls go nowhere, they probably switched off their radio to save power. Too bad. With them it's probably even harder and more deprived.
The following morning we enjoy the fact that nothing has been broken in the last 24 hours and nothing has been torn apart from the fishing line. We open a fresh can of liver sausage from Frankfurt and smear the contents on the freshly baked bread. Small pickles would have gone great with the bread, but we don't have them. Or. we just don't find them in the supply load. Sailing is hard and full of privation.
5. Etmal: 103 nm Position at 12 o'clock: N15 ° 42 ′ W32 ° 47 ′ 1565 nautical miles to Barbados, we have 501 miles behind us. We have also passed the point of no return. We can no longer drive back to Mindelo with our diesel. From now on we have to move forward.
You can never please people. Especially not when planning meals on a transatlantic cruise. We still have a lot of vegetables, but there is no fresh meat left. From now on we live from our canned food. Our potatoes in particular are not doing well. They don't really tolerate the climate and want to be eaten. The sweet potatoes are still going strong. They can handle the climate better. I suggested a dish with fried potatoes for today and a dish with the last potatoes for tomorrow. Then Jens mutinied, our pastafari. “Potatoes, always only potatoes!” I have to think of something else. Maybe I'll put sheets of lasagne between the layers of potatoes.
The wind is unfriendly. Somewhere between little and very little. As a result, we stagger around in the waves like a drunk cow on an ice surface. If a wave really hits us, the genoa hits and it crashes in every corner of Sissi. Somehow I wish for a few days with strong winds. We can handle that better, then we don't rock in front of us at 4 kn, but hiss through the waves at twice the speed.
A routine of changing the guard has been established. After dinner, Jakob and Jens go to bed early, I have the watch until midnight. Then I wake up Jacob, who is on duty until four o'clock. He wakes Jens, who is then the turn of the rest of the night. In the morning around 8:30 am I slept in and took over from Jens. That usually ends around noon, after which we are all awake. Then it's everyone's turn. Otherwise, people doze, read and eat. There is a daily inspection of the boat. Have any screws loosened? We work hand in hand, with routine. We're going across the Atlantic together. Sometimes I ask myself - do we also drive together?
In the first few days we first had to get used to the rules at sea, which are quite different from those in port. There is no object left where it was put down. If you don't hold on with at least one hand, you won't stop for long. We are now so fit that we can do something together during our time together. We sleep well now and don't have to catch up on the lack of night sleep during the day.
We only have a few board games in our luggage, but we will hardly be able to play online games. In any case, I want to try my hand at a pizza tomorrow. On other boats they can do the same thing with the pizza, because I'll be able to pull some delicious slices out of the oven, too. Variety is a must, we haven't booked a potato diet. If the day after tomorrow we have to hand over our last potatoes to Neptune, that's just the way it is.
Actually we just have to get through today's Saturday. The wind will come up on Sunday night. Then the mood on board will suddenly improve, because a fast boat is more fun than a slow boat. Right now it feels like the Atlantic is a thick syrup. And the flying fish are annoying. The guy in the photo for this blog has started to smell under a fender. Uh Finding fish is also routine on board.
In the morning, the first repair awaits me before the first morning coffee. The electric coffee grinder no longer grinds coffee. I lovingly take them apart and stroke the innards with a delicate brush. I free them from large lumps of coffee and find a lot more deep inside the most useful household appliance on board. Then I get my life giver, the black magic potion. Mmmmh, yummy.
4. Etmal: 97 nm Position at 12 o'clock: N15 ° 45 ′ W31 ° 05 ′ 1,666 nautical miles to Barbados, we have 398 miles behind us.
Let no one say that there is a lack of highlights and sensations at sea. So far, we have been able to observe innumerable birds on our voyage, saw dolphins, whales, turtles and now also flying fish. On the third day at sea, however, the first highlight of a future never-ending series of highlights on our transatlantic tour took place. And I don't mean the delicious goulash for dinner, where I was a little careless with the agitators I bought in Mindelo.
Meals are the most important fixtures of the day, but the freshwater shower is an extreme highlight. They don't even exist on other sailing boats, as fresh water is only available for coffee and brushing your teeth. To save electricity, we “only” treat ourselves to a freshwater shower every two days, with a cat wash with a washcloth in between. Did I mention the watermaker was a great investment? Today there was the first transatlantic shower and it was great. Only the ship's movements were uncomfortable with only a good 3 wind strengths.
Now I'm on night duty and it's so beautiful right now. The crescent moon stands in the sky, sometimes it can be seen between the clouds, but often only to be guessed. The wind has picked up a bit and is coming from behind. A whopping four wind speeds, tendency towards five. A dream. The waves also come from behind, they are long, wide, pleasant waves. So we surf the waves up and down for minutes. The ship lies very quietly in the water and makes hardly any noise. Only the hissing of the waves can be heard, the wind generator still hums in the background. Magical. For minutes. We are driving at 6 kn. Great. For minutes. Then a wave runs across it. The magic is over, Sissi shakes herself and everything clinks, rattles, creaks, rattles and bangs. Calm returns for almost a minute, and then the magic creeps back into the cockpit. This is no magic, here the Atlantic sparkles magically in the pale moonlight.
The following morning I wake up to a sound that is new. New noises always worry me. I call Jens to check the wind vane, then I get the answer that the screw, which we have already replaced or tightened several times, is already going astray again. The main problem is that we no longer have washers for M12 screws. I smurf us a washer from a cable lug for M12. Then I add half a tube of screw glue (a shaft made me press too hard on the tube) and tighten the screw properly again. If the manufacturer had only specified a torque, it would just have to come from the wrist.
The sun is shining, the sky is slightly hazy, the wind only blows with wind force 3. So we're only making slow progress, but today we were able to beat yesterday's Etmal again. If this continues, we'll be racing down to Barbados in the last week.
3. Etmal: 106 nm Position at 12 o'clock: N15 ° 48 ′ W29 ° 27 ′ 1757 nautical miles to Barbados, we have 301 miles behind us.
Our first full day at sea begins sleepily, as is customary with people all over the world on January 1st of each year. However, we are not overslept because we would have killed the lights with alcohol, but because the first night at sea is usually cruel. The Atlantic lets Sissi roll, we roll in the beds and have not yet got used to it again. That's why we all didn't get enough sleep.
Everything starts accordingly slowly. We have to make a new bread, the onion bread is eaten. We are currently making a new bread every day. We make a new onion bread every day. That has to stop, otherwise we won't have enough onions or enough flour to bake ourselves across the Atlantic. But I make another batter and I put one on top. I pour a pack of bacon (diced very small) into the bread dough. A bread with onions and bacon. My next bread project will be jam bread. Or I bake a liver sausage sandwich.
Then we make a chili con carne. We have to eat, we are all hungry. The smell of the roasting onions for the onion bacon bread makes us hungry. I would have liked to have a dike made of rice around my chili, but Jens brutally stirs the rice into the chili pot. He's too lazy to serve. He will pay for this in the next lasagna. Then I stir noodles into the Bolognese sauce and call it “lasagna for the lazy”.
The second night at sea is better. On the one hand we are more used to rocking again, on the other hand the rocking has also slacked off. All along we have been trying to escape a lull towards the southwest, but downloading the new forecast we can see that the lull has vanished into thin air. All the better. The jibe is done quickly and now we are walking more or less straight west, straight to Barbados. We explain to Jakob how to use the radar device so that he can look for squalls on his watch during the night.
We don't see anything or anyone. There are no other ships here. Only the endlessly wide Atlantic is at the door of our floating motorhome with the best view.
2nd Etmal: 103 nm Position at 12 o'clock: N15 ° 42 W27 ° 40 1860 nautical miles to Barbados, 195 miles behind us.